The court has put the victim on trial, persistently shaming and discrediting her, says women journalists network
The trial court judgment acquitting journalist Tarun Tejpal, former editor-in-chief of the Tehelka magazine, who was charged, in 2013, of the rape, unlawful confinement and sexual harassment of a young woman journalist working at the magazine, is a grave miscarriage of justice and a massive setback for the Indian women’s rights movement and the safety of working women in particular, the Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) said.
The court has put the victim on trial, persistently shaming and discrediting her, the NWMI said. The judgment by Additional Sessions Judge Kshama M. Joshi sets out standards for a “sterling witness” and the “normative” look of a traumatised woman and attempts to rip into the survivor as she “failed to pass any of the tests”, the NWMI said, critiquing the 527-page judgement.
The judgment, NWMI said, also gives a short shrift to consent, the defining factor in sexual assault, including rape. And it ignores the key evidence of an apology e-mail written by Mr. Tejpal himself, including one in which he acknowledged a “shameful lapse of judgement” and “clear reluctance” on the part of the survivor.
“Despite Tejpal admitting in his email to non-consensual conduct towards the survivor, and despite the survivor’s unequivocal testimony that she kept saying “no”, the judgement disregards the vital issue of consent,” the NWMI said.
Mr. Tejpal was arrested on November 30, 2013 and secured bail seven months later on July 1, 2014. It took nearly four years for the fast track court trial to commence on September 7, 2017. The case is among those to be tried under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013 which expands the legal definitions of acts that constitute rape and the contexts in which consent is given.